Netherlands-based APM Terminals plans to invest $2 billion to expand the containers terminal of the Mexican Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, a project that will create 3,000 direct jobs, officials said.

APM Terminals, a unit of Grupo Maersk and one of the largest firms in the world, said it will invest $900 million in the first stage of this expansion, the Economic Development Secretariat of the western state of Michoacan said in a statement.

State authorities and company executives laid the cornerstone for the expansion of the terminal, which will make the port of Lazaro Cardenas the port of choice for importing products from Asia to Mexico and the U.S. East Coast.

The state's development secretary, Ricardo Martinez, said the terminal will operate the unloading of giant new-generation freighters, the world's biggest.

During the first stage a container yard covering some 43 hectares (106 acres) and a 650-meter (2,100-foot) wharf will be built.

The new complex also includes an administration building, warehouse, access gates, and a modern railroad terminal next to the wharf that will allow an ever-greater volume of intermodal cargoes.

At the ceremony, APM Terminals CEO Tiemen Meester said that the company's investment reflects confidence in the future of the Mexican economy.

During the construction phase, the project will immediately create 900 direct jobs in the area.

APM Terminals, which also operates the port terminals of Ensenada and Manzanillo, reported $4.7 billion in revenue and $649 million in net income in 2011. EFE